The Supreme Court just set the stage for a blockbuster ruling on Trump's financial records

President Donald Trump poses for photos as he meets with Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez at the White House, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to take up three major cases regarding President Donald Trump's taxes and financial records.
  • The hearings will begin in March and the court will make a ruling by the end of its current term in June 2020.
  • In all three cases, lower courts ruled that the president has to turn over his closely held financial records to Congress and New York state investigators.
  • The Supreme Court is now Trump's last hope to conceal his finances from the public.
  • Currently, the court has a 5-4 conservative majority, and two of the justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, are Trump appointees.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up three cases regarding President Donald Trump's tax and financial records.

Two of the cases involve congressional subpoenas from Democratic-led committees investigating Trump's financial background. The third relates to the Manhattan district attorney's office's efforts to obtain Trump's business records to investigate whether the Trump Organization broke state law.
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The Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing the cases in March and will come to a ruling by the end of its term in June. Currently, the court has a 5-4 conservative majority, and two of the justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, are Trump appointees.

The House oversight, financial services, and intelligence committees subpoenaed Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, and two of his banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One, as part of an investigation into the president's potential conflicts of interest and foreign business ties.

Trump then sued the oversight committee in federal court in Washington, DC, to block the Mazars subpoena, and he sued the financial services and intelligence committees in New York to block the subpoenas to Deutsche and Capital One. In these congressional cases, Trump's lawyers argued that Congress does not have a legitimate legislative purpose in examining his records and is going on a "sweeping" and "extraordinary" fishing expedition.
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The president also sued the Manhattan DA's office in New York to stop investigators from obtaining his tax returns. In this case, the president's attorneys argued that he has "absolute immunity" not just from criminal prosecution but from any investigation while in office.

In all three cases, lower courts rejected Trump's arguments and said the president has to turn over his records to congressional and New York state investigators. Now, the Supreme Court is Trump's last hope to stop the public from gaining access to his closely held financial records.
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Trump has been at the center of several financial scandals throughout his professional life. The New York Times reported last year that Trump used a series of dubious tax schemes to shield a $400 million inheritance from the IRS. And in September, Mother Jones published an investigation that found that he might have fabricated a loan to avoid paying $50 million in income taxes.

But Trump has long maintained that he has committed no financial or tax crimes. He has said he can't release his tax returns because they are under audit, even though there is no rule to prevent him from doing so.

The public may get a window into the president's financial documents even before the Supreme Court rules on the cases, thanks to an employee at the IRS who recently blew the whistle on "inappropriate efforts to influence" the agency's audit of Trump's tax returns.
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According to The Washington Post, the person accused of trying to interfere with the audit is a political appointee at the Treasury Department.

There aren't many government officials who have access to the president's and vice president's tax documents, Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, told Insider in an earlier interview.

"The president's and vice president's tax returns are kept in a top-secret vault," Cramer said. "It's code-word-protected, the whole nine yards, and not just anyone can get in there. There are very few people - the head of the Treasury, the head of the IRS - who have access."
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Trump was also accused of altering his tax and loan records by Michael Cohen, his longtime former lawyer who is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for campaign-finance violations and tax evasion.

In particular, Cohen accused Trump of inflating and deflating his loan and tax documents, respectively.

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